Daily Star photo/CRAIG HAUPERT Buchanan High School students, from left, Kelsie Devlaminck, Zack Pierce and Jeremiah Briggs are preparing for a life in the medical field by learning in the Professional Health Careers Academy in Niles.

Archived Story

Hands-on health care

Published 10:37pm Wednesday, February 8, 2012

BUCHANAN — Kelsie Devlaminck is just a senior at Buchanan High School, but the aspiring nurse has already removed staples from a patient’s stomach.

Zack Pierce, also a senior, has been in the back of speeding ambulance on the way to the hospital with a head-trauma patient.

Jeremiah Briggs, a junior, was a witness to a doctor carefully removing gel from behind a patient’s retina.

By the time the three Buchanan students get to college, they feel like they’ll be ready for anything.

“Rather than going into college blind and seeing weird stuff for the first time, you are actually seeing it now,” said Pierce, who wants to be an anesthesiologist or a sports medicine doctor. “You can say, ‘I’ve seen that and I’ve done that.’”

Devlaminck, Pierce and Briggs are three of 24 area students enrolled in the Professional Health Careers Academy. The academy gives juniors and seniors in southwest Michigan a chance to see what life is really like for people working in the medical field.

Since starting the academy in September, students have been taking introductory-level classes like medical terminology, CPR and anatomy at Lakeland Hospital in Niles. Students are shadowing doctors, nurses, dentists, veterinarians and others while they work in their respective fields.

“It is giving you a little taste of what you can do in your career,” said Devlaminck. “If you decide you don’t want to be in something, you can change and see something else.”

Pierce, Devlaminck and Briggs all want to pursue careers in the medical field, a requirement for students in the program.

Pierce has been accepted into Michigan State University’s pre-medicine program, while Devlaminck wants to obtain her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Lake Michigan College. Devlaminck wants to be an ophthalmologist.

All three believe the Professional Health Careers Academy will help them accomplish their goals.
“After seeing what an ophthalmologist does on a daily basis, I asked myself ‘could I do this?’” Briggs said. “I believe I can. This program has made me know even more that this is what I want to do.”

By completing the program, students earn several college credits honored by Lake Michigan College and Western Michigan University.

The program is overseen by Niles Community Schools, but offered to students in numerous school districts in southwestern Michigan. It is in its ninth year and runs from September to May.

Program instructor Melissa Springsteen said students interested in the program should contact their school counselor or adviser.

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